By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY
The new U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that we don't know our own traditions or those of neighbors across the street or across the globe.
Among 3,412 adults surveyed, only 2% correctly answered at least 29 of 32 questions on the Bible, major religious figures, beliefs and practices. The average score was 16 correct (50%).
Only 55% of Catholic respondents knew the core teaching that the bread and wine in the Mass become the body and blood of Christ, and are not merely symbols. Just 19% of Protestants knew the basic tenet that salvation is through faith alone, not actions as well.
Just 55% of all respondents knew the Golden Rule isn't one of the Ten Commandments; 45% could name all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
Fewer than half (47%) knew that the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist; 27% knew most people in Indonesia are Muslims.
The top scoring groups were atheists/agnostics, Jews and Mormons. These tiny groups, adding up to less than 7% of Americans, scored particularly well on world religion and U.S. constitutional questions. It's unclear why, although highly educated people overall did best on the quiz, researchers say.
Overall, men scored better than women, whites score better than blacks and Hispanics, and Southerners did worse than the rest of the nation, Smith said.
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